Social Innovation Fellowship

Deadline 12/23/2016
Contact Alan Harlam
Website http://brown.edu/academics/college/special-programs/public-service/social-innovation-initiative/social-innovation-fellowship


The Social Innovation Fellowship provides 15-20 students with up to $4,000 to grow a social venture over the summer, supported by a year of intensive skills training, complementary coursework, and a community of social entrepreneurs on campus offering mentorship and critique.

The SI Fellowship is the overarching program for both C.V. Starr Social Entrepreneurship Fellows and Leslie Altman Social Entrepreneurship Fellows. In addition, there are two seats in the program available to RISD students and two seats available for graduate students from the Taubman Center for Public Policy’s Masters in Public Affairs program. 


All rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors who will be on campus for at least one full academic year following the fellowship are eligible for the Fellowship.

Students who have applied in previous years are welcome to submit applications for the same or a different proposal to the program.  Previous applications have no bearing on the candidacy of a current applicant.  United States’ citizenship is not a determinant of eligibility.


Two or more students can submit proposals to work on the same project.  The applicants may apply individually or together – but this must be explicitly stated in the application.  Separate applications will be considered separately with no consideration for the interdependence of the work with acceptance being determined on the individual merits of each application.  Joint applications must justify how the background, ability, and resources of the team are required to complete the project with clear roles and responsibilities for each team member.  Letters of support for the application must be submitted for each team member.


The Social Innovation Fellowship provides an opportunity for individual students or groups to translate ideas into action. Students will develop project proposals which model the creation of an entrepreneurial initiative.  Project proposals will be evaluated to show how they address each of the following key requirements:

  • Does the student understand and have sufficient qualifications (academic, experience) to be making this proposal?
  • How does the project incorporate innovative approaches to drive change and sustain impact?
  • Are the expected outcomes of the project clearly identified and does the project include appropriate plans for measuring and evaluating outcomes?
  • Does the proposal include adequate measures to ensure financial & environmental sustainability? 
  • Is the project informed by, connected with and have support from appropriate community partners and stakeholders? 

In addition to the criteria to evaluate the rationale and project design, several other considerations will be considered:

  • Degree of predictability that the prospective Fellow will accomplish the stated goals:
    • Are the action plan and timeline realistic given the expectations and anticipated outcomes outlined in the proposal?  Can the project be reasonably accomplished?
    • Are the relationships and resources in place to complete the proposed projects in place?
  • Demonstration of past experience, leadership and initiative by applicants


The Social Innovation Fellowship provides undergraduate students with funding, training, and mentoring to support their efforts to develop and assess new approaches to advancing social change.  The Fellowship provides 15-20 students with up to $4,000 each to support an intensive summer immersion project grounded in the entrepreneurial principles of innovation, impact and sustainability. In the year following their summer immersion, Fellows may apply for up to $2,000 in matching funds to support continued efforts to deepen the project’s impact and the student’s learning experience.


Applicants will be asked to substantiate their project design and proposals with research and personal experience, as well as validation and support from context experts and community collaborators.  The application shall include each of the following sections:

  • Applicant Information:  Please download this form and complete all of the requested information. Each member of a joint application should complete this section individually.
  •  Project Abstract: Title for project and brief (approximately 100 words) description of the project being proposed in the Project Narrative.
  • Project Narrative:  Describe the project you plan to undertake during the summer.  You should address questions and criteria outlined in the Project Proposal Criteria document from the web site.  If the project includes more than one applicant, be sure to explain the talents, roles and responsibilities for each team member.
  • Personal Statement:  Describe how you became interested in this work and where you feel you are at this point.  Explain how your course work, research, extracurricular experiences, and community relationships have prepared you to undertake this project. This statement will become the opening “chapter” in the story you will be asked to tell throughout your Fellowship.  Please provide reflections about the questions or concerns you have about your readiness to undertake this project or other factors that may make this project difficult to complete. 
  • Project Timeline/Action Plan: Explain how you plan to undertake the project. The timeline should outline the tasks / steps you plan to complete before the summer – then a weekly plan for the work you plan during the summer.  Tasks should describe the work to be completed, the deliverables you plan to complete where appropriate, and for joint proposals the team members responsible for the task/deliverable.
  • Budget: Applicants should provide a budget to complete the work outlined in their proposal that includes personal expenses (housing, living expense, travel, etc) and program expenses as appropriate.  If the budget shows projected costs that exceed $4,000 (per applicant), the application should include provisions to address the difference.  The budget presented with the application in not binding on the applicant but will be reviewed by the Selection Committee as an indicator of the feasibility and logic of the proposed project.
  • Letters of Support: Each Applicant should receive a letter of support from a Brown University faculty or staff member who can assess the student’s unique qualities, interests and skills in fulfilling his or her responsibilities to the project and to the Starr Fellowship. An additional letter should be provided by an expert who is familiar with the proposed project or initiative and who can attest to its feasibility and viability. Often, this letter will come from an organization or collaborating partner who has worked with the student (team) to develop and refine the ideas and approach embodied in the proposal. 

Draft Proposals should be submitted by email to Lizzie_Pollock@Brown.edu by November 11, 2015. This submittal should include the Project Narrative and Personal Statement. Applicants will receive written feedback to assist in preparing the final submittal before winter break commences. The final proposal should be submitted by email by December 23, 2015.